What in the world would man-made Common Core education standards be doing in a children's Bible, or any other Christian student material for that matter?
Just ask Thomas Nelson, Harper Collins and Zondervan, the biggest names in Christian publishing. Common Core requires new and revised materials in today’s classroom and home schools, so now books like Thomas Nelson's Jesus and Me Bible Storybook, a book for boys and girls aged 2 - 7, contains these Common Core questions:
“Tommy Nelson has reviewed much of our backlist and applied the Common Core standards,” said Laura Minchew, senior vice president and publisher, specialty publishing, for HarperCollins Christian. “We also run our new titles through Common Core guidelines. We are not specifically creating products for the educational market,” Minchew clarified. “However, we will have a landing page with all of the Tommy Nelson titles and the associated Common Core standards.”
Nonfiction publishers in CBA market opt to either embrace or eschew widely adopted educational program
New Common Core educational standards became a source of controversy even before being adopted for use by 45 U.S. states. Some Christian publishers are applying the standards to their products while others are running in the other direction.
“Common Core has become a lightning rod, layered with issues and emotions that don’t relate directly to the academic achievement of students,” said Mary Manz Simon, author and children’s market consultant. “As an early childhood educator, I work with content at the lower primary levels. Based on my experience, Common Core is providing a desperately needed scaffolding of learning skills for these early grades. The degree of content mastery is more rigorous and demanding than what we have known.
“The standards emphasize higher levels of critical thinking, which include analysis, synthesis and evaluation,” Simon added. “I believe some of the negativism toward Common Core comes when those aspects of interpretive thinking, especially by students in upper grades, are applied to biblical learning.
“At all levels, however, the assessment piece of the initiative subjects students to more testing, which is a concern in our current ‘test culture.’ ”
Common Core requires new and revised materials—and that’s where Christian publishers enter today’s classroom.
“Tommy Nelson has reviewed much of our backlist and applied the Common Core standards,” said Laura Minchew, senior vice president and publisher, specialty publishing, for HarperCollins Christian. “We also run our new titles through Common Core guidelines.”
“We are not specifically creating products for the educational market,” Minchew clarified. “However, we will have a landing page with all of the Tommy Nelson titles and the associated Common Core standards.”
Senior Vice President and Zondervan Group Publisher Annette Bourland said that Zondervan is “working to support these standards by offering a diverse variety of books for every grade level, making it easier for educators, librarians and parents to find Common Core-compliant books.”
Meanwhile, Master Books is against Common Core.
“We have not, and have no plans to, alight with the Common Core State Standards,” said Laura Welch, editor in chief for New Leaf Publishing Group. “New Leaf Publishing Group, which includes Master Books, adheres to the policy of upholding biblical standards of education.
“The idea that education may soon be controlled by the government is an unsettling thought,” the statement continued. “We create resources from a biblical worldview that teach the Bible as truth and draw from the Bible our world’s history and science. We believe families should be able to make their own educational decisions appropriate for their children, which adhere to their personal belief systems and exclusionary of false theories such as evolution.”
Despite the controversy, at press time Common Core had been adopted in all but five states, but implementation has been a challenge. Simon spoke of miscommunication surrounding the adoption of the new standards as well as an “accelerated timeline” that makes everyone feel “rushed.”
“Few of us like change,” she added, “and change at hyperspeed is rarely embraced when driven from the top down.”
What are your thoughts?